By RALPH BARTHOLDT
Hayden officials expect a big crowd at Tuesday’s public hearing for the Hayden Canyon development.
Because City Hall likely won’t accommodate the expected throng, the venue for the planning and zoning meeting was moved to Atlas Elementary.
But here’s the thing: Administrators are wondering if many of the residents who don’t want the development understand that amendments to the development agreement, not whether the development will move forward, are the focus of Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s not ‘are we or are we not’ going to develop,” said Hayden’s community and economic development director, Melissa Cleveland. “It’s already been decided.”
Plans for the 612-acre property at the northern edge of Hayden began in 2005. The property, which lies between Government Way and Strahorn Road, most of it north of Lancaster Road, was annexed into the city in 2009. The planned unit development, or PUD, one of the final planning stages, was approved in 2013 by the Hayden City Council.
Tuesday’s meeting will address the timing of construction, lot lines and the transportation plan, said development planner Glen Lanker.
“This is mostly procedural,” Lanker said. “Everything else has been approved as part of the master plan.”
One of the amendments, however, will address when Hayden Canyon charter school opens.
The school is among the centerpieces of the 1,823 residential unit project that includes 224 acres of open space. Around 30 acres of public space is set aside for a school and community center as well as a sheriff’s substation, Lanker said.
The K-8 Hayden Canyon Charter is in the Lakeland School District on land donated for the purpose. Board president Joshua Dahlstrom said the school was supposed to open last year, but because the project timeline was set back, the school’s opening was pushed to 2019.
“We have no reason to believe we can’t open the school this year,” Dahlstrom said.
The school was supposed to be built as part of the third or fourth phase of the project, Cleveland said.
The board has hired an administrator and enrollment is almost topped out.
In an effort to accommodate the community, the school board plans to install temporary buildings on the proposed school site, which lies east of Government Way, south of Mark’s Marine.
The school, with its project-based learning curriculum, is one of the development’s draws — and has a lot of community support, Dahlstrom said.
If the amendment to the timeline is approved, temporary school buildings would be rolled in after the site, a former gravel pit, is shored up this summer. The portables would adjoin the location reserved for a permanent school.
Dahlstrom said he and other board members as well as the developers are pushing hard for the school to be operating during the 2019-20 school year.
“We would be part of the first phase,” he said. “We would be the very first thing to come in … portables surrounded by trees.”
For now, the massive project built out over many years on the large woodland along Lancaster Road still seems like a long-awaited pipedream to those who have lived with the Hayden Canyon plans more than a decade without seeing concrete changes.
Almost all the work has so far been administrative.
If the planning and zoning board on Tuesday green lights the amendments, the recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council for final approval, Cleveland said.
A time frame for visible changes on the land is still a ways off.
“We don’t have a definite timeline,” Lanker said. “But this is an important step in the city’s approval process.”